The Audi A8 can be considered the flagship of the range, as a luxury executive car it sets out to compete with other executive cars in its class. Such cars include the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes S Class, Audi have managed to compete effectively with these models as well as others in this packed class awash with prestige vehicles. The price may well scare some away however, to buy new they are costly, increasingly, a used A8 has become an affordable option for business executives.
Styled in a conservative manner, the looks of the car belie its technological and modern nature; the Audi A8 has been regarded by some commentators as the cleverest car in the world. Lighter than competitors such as the VW Phaeton and the Rolls-Royce Phantom it is constructed from aluminium that ensures rust free driving for years and makes the A8 an even more enticing used car option. The 7 Series and S Class may be more aesthetically pleasing in a bold contemporary way but the Audi penchant for understated style is prevalent throughout, right down to the single panel grill present in most of the Audi range.
It is not until you climb inside the A8 that you realise where the designers at Audi have focussed their attention. However, if it is luxury you are looking for, go for the Rolls Royce Phantom, its interior is truly awe-inspiring while the insulation dulling the engine noise is truly outstanding.
The finish is exemplary in all aspects, the ergonomic design of the driving position and cabin in general makes it a comfortable and luxurious space to spend time in. Long journeys will fly by in a breeze as you effortlessly coast along motorways. The autobahn heritage is clear to see when travelling at high speeds for any length of time as engine noise is practically non-existent and the ride quality is like floating on air.
The Quattro four wheel drive system means road holding is sheer quality and confident handling is present at every corner. The steering however can be described as a little distant, especially considering the brilliant driving experience present in the BMW 7 Series, that has been described as exemplary. This however is a minor complaint in a car that sets out not to thrill the driver but to create a driving experience that is as effortless and comfortable as possible. Engine choices are extensive and vary greatly in power and efficiency. The diesels are probably the best option as the TDi system delivers performance combined with fuel efficiency. Although the A8 is clearly missing the sheer power of the engine options in the Mercedes S Class.
Rear seat comfort makes the Audi A8 a car that makes a perfect limousine for the discerning businessman. It will comfortably fit five adults with those in the back enjoying a large degree of legroom, especially in the longer wheel based models. Although most who want to be chauffeured are more likely to look at the Maybach of Rolls for their luxurious interioirs and sense of space. In terms of reliability, the quality of finish shines through in the A8, the car will literally go for miles and miles with breakdowns being a rarity.
Downsides to this premier car do however exist, some owners have reported that the central armrest can break if leaned on too hard and the transmission in the earlier models from 1997 through to 1999 has been an issue for some, although not all. One thing that may be a worry for some is the high price of replacement parts and servicing, remember this is not a Honda, and parts will be expensive. If you have the money for the initial outlay however, maintenance costs should not be of great importance.
Overall the Audi A8 is a sublime piece of technology, it may be pricy but when compared to other cars in its class the price is relatively affordable. As a luxury car it is almost unsurpassable, the quality of this German car manufacturer is clear throughout the design and construction process and while the car may be expensive, it is good value for money. For those who travel extensively on business and want to impress, the A8 is a serious vehicular option.
Motoring expert Thomas Pretty looks into the good and bad points of the Audi A8 as the flagship of the Audi range.